Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hot Date With My Hardshoes

Last week I went to a Wednsday night Adults class for the first time. It was thrilling! Besides not having snot-faced kids telling me I am too old for their class and critiquing me not knowing the 'harder steps' yet, there were lots of things to love about it. Dancing with peers, yes, people my own age - I forgot how nice it was. When you are achy and tired, they are too. When you collapse on the floor in a heap because you knee just did it's funny twinge thing, they understand. Comparable height is always nice too. That being said, evey one in the Adult class (there were a total of 5 of last week, and only me and one other girl this week) is in Prelims or Champs. SO, yeah, I am SUPER the remedial student. One thing about dancing with the 5-10 year olds is even if they know the step, they are usually too busy running around and making fun of the "old woman" in their class that they don't pay much attention to their form, so, I can at least feel superior in some small ways. In the kids class, I am not the bottom of the barrel when it comes to skill set. I am one of the dancers that the little kids coming to their first class look at and whine about how they want to dance what I am dancing, without having ever learned their sevens or hops yet. Pretty much, on wednsday nights, THAT is what I have become, while I am DESPRETLY trying to get the timing right on my Advance Beginner Treble Jig, they come sweeping across the floor with their sets, feeting moving in ways that astound me, and I find myself mentally whining 'but I want to do that'. Luckily, I have the maturity and mental age to grasp the idea that I have to learn my stuff FIRST and the harder I work on it, the harder I will get to their level.

It is a strange, but I think good for me, dichotomy between the Adult and the regular satuday classes. Saturdays with the kids, I break down the steps more, go over them time and time again. That's good, I need that. Wedsndays, when it's just me and a small group of others, it's just pounding out you steps over and over and over again. Which, is also good, and I need that too. Dancing with the kids, gives me confidence. Not saying I gloat over the little mites, but seeing them struggle with things makes me feel slightly less useless  - I can accomplish SOMETHING and I once was where they are at now look at me sort of thing. Dancing with girls that are miles away better dancers then I am gives me a challenge. So, it's sort of like I am either dancing with where I have been, or where I want to be, constantly stuck between the two. It's good though, gives me different levels of motivation.

Other benefits of dancing with people my own age. I can actually talk to them - work, boyfriends, car repairs, etc. There is something to actually chit chat about. I can swear around them. That was an amazing feeling. I don't have the worst potty mouth in the world, but I am constantly watching myself around the kids. But being able to go "Shhhhit!" When I screw up my Slip jig for the millionth time - it's cathartic, really.

And victories. I finally got through right and left of my second sip jig step. I had been working it all soft shoe, but I just kept tripping over my own feet. Kids don't see all the hard work. Some just see you messing up and wonder why you haven't gotten it yet. Others don't even see past their own feet. But to have a peer, a girl my own age (roughly), who has gotten to a much high level of compition than I am stand there and watch me do my sad, (comparatively) simplistic  little Slip Jig step, see me get through it and cheer and give me a high five - well, yeah. That was kinda great.

Little victories. Little victories everywhere. My victory tonight was my slip jig Which brings me to a long over due "Win"

Maybe kids don't either, I don't know, I've never danced as a kid. And I don't mean to down play how hard kids work on their steps, but it seems to come easier to them - for all the obvious reasons that we area always talking about. They are younger, fitter, more energetic, less exhausted from work (they don't have work). Their minds are sponges and show them a step twice and they at least get the gist of it. I fight, I battle, I WAGE WAR on every single step, and when I finally get it, I never get over that sense of victory. I see kids take certain things for granted, like "Oh, of course I know my light jig. Light Jig is so stupid simple." while I just go "HECK YEAH I know my light jig! Boooya!"

Anyhoo, this old woman is going to bed. More old lady things in the AM.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

I'm not stressed, I'm trying to breathe!

Maybe it's that the kid likes me, that she keeps talking to me? I don't know, all I know, was I was still a little cranky with little miss "aren't you too old", so her asking me today after class, whilst I am trying to pack up my stuff, fill out the new years registration form, find my checkbook, remembering how old I will be on January 1st (no, really, I had to think about it for like 5 minutes)  and y'know, catch my breath from getting my ass handed to me within the first 20 minutes of class, if I was alright, cause, y'know, "you looked stressed" *read in snotty 9 year old tone*. My response was "No, just trying to catch my breath. We aren't all young and energetic." Her parents were standing there, or else Evil Meara might have popped out and said something to the extent of "When you are pushing 30, overweight, a former heart-patient and don't have your mommy to tie your shoes for you, you can talk to me about stress, ya little turd!" . . ..  I am pleased to say, Evil Meara was held at bay.

Despite pre-class social anxiety panic attacks, I got there walked in the front door, and it was almost like there hadn't been a summer break. TC was happy to see me, so that was great. All the same little faces lined up on the floor next to me. The only thing different was all that stamina I had been building up over all of last year left me high and dry weeks ago. Some warm up drills and two times through my treble jig and I was ready to collapse. Amazingly enough, I didn't forget every single thing I had learned.Treble jig & Hornpipe had nothing more then the usual technical difficulties. But then, one of the munchkins decided to ask to do slip jig first thing in shoftshoe.

When my TC was confirming with me that I didn't know it, I did have the decided pleasure in telling her that I knew my first step well enough and that I had danced it at my last Feis, AND DIDN'T GET LAST - my "fifth place slip jig" was the joke for the rest of the class. And honestly, my first step still wasn't bad, having only just learned it right before the competition and then not working on it at all since then.

After class (somewhere in between being insulted by Miss Smartypants) I got a chance to catch up with TC. She was pleased with all my 2nd places, liked the idea of me coming to 2 classes a week was encouraging of me entering a feis in December, pointing out that I would still be able to dance in AB, but as of the new year, anything I had placed in I would have to move up in. I managed not to scream like a teenage at a boy band concert, and just said something to the extent of "Yeah, I was thinking that I was going to have to. I was hoping. Now, maybe if I work really hard and do well at this feis in January, I can move ALL my dances up at one time and not have to be split between two levels.

But, really, what I was thinking was "HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT!!!!! I'M MOVING UP TO NOVICE"

I mean, it's only been eleven bloody years!!

So - no messing around from here on out!! I WILL have all my dances ready to move up to Novice by the new year. That means I need to place my Treble Jig, my Slip Jig and my Saint Patrick's day at this feis in December. So I HAVE to go to all my classes, if not 2 classes a week. I need to practice over the weeks, I need to start eating better, getting better sleep and being more focused.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Keep Calm and . . . no, screw that, panic and freak out!

Dance class FINALLY starts again for me a week from tomorrow. Have I practiced at all? No. Have I drilled. Nein! Have I even gone over my steps in my head. Niet! Have I spent countless hours looking at pictures of dance dresses in hopes of being encouraged to dance. Sure. Has it actually motivated me. Nope.

And now that I have seven days to worry about my TC wanting to flay me alive for going two and a half months without so much as doing an over-two-three what is my game plan? I don't know - I don't have one. I am pretending I am both Irish AND southern, and pulling a Scarlet O'Hara - I'll worry about that tomorrow.

Stay tuned . . .  the panic is only going to get worse . . . .

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mid Summer Blues

I've been out of class since May. Summer classes are only on limited weekday evenings. I attend weekend classes normally, since I work second shift. So, no summer classes for me.

My major problem is that I am lazy. Bone idle. A complete lard-ass. I could drill on my own, but I find any number of excuses not to. I could have contacted one of the champ dancers at my school that tutor other students, but I am a chicken-shit as well as being lazy. I manage to hide my anti-social tendecies well enough, but contacting people I don't know still freaks me out. Which is really just more excuses.

The boost I got from a reasonable showing at my three summer feiseanna has long since fallen away, and while I still get giddy looking at my plethora of Silver medals, I don't get motivated.  Which I will regret when I get back to class in September, and my form is STILL a mess, I have a whole bunch of judges' comments that I have done anything about fixing, and my stamina is shot to hell.

I want to be a motivated, go-get-it attitude kind of person. But that has never come naturally to me. Cynical, do-the-least-amount-possible-to-get-decent-results kind of person - THAT I can do, no sweat. The problem is, decent is decent enough for me any more. I've set the goal higher, but I have yet to figure out how to set my my determination accordingly.

 I always have the best intentions to drill . . . but the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all that.

I guess I am just waxing philosophic here to anyone who happens to read. Sorry about that. It's 2am and it's just been on my mind.

I guess I haven't talked about my third, and final (for a few months) feis. It was about 3 weeks ago already at this point. 2 more second places, for my reel and my light jig. Hornpipe was 5th out of 6th. I can't complain - I wasn't last place, and yet again, I hadn't practiced before the competition. I really can't fathom how thoroughly decent I could actually be at this if I just tried a little harder.

But honestly, getting to hang out with a friend at a Feis was the highlight. That and the Feis Mom's next to me, being so nice and helping me out with all the little stuff that FM's help out with, y'know, zippers, pinning capes,fixing collars, all that. But mostly, having the friends around. Friends there to watch (although, I always feel guilty when my non-dance friends come to my competitions. Feiseanna are hardly a spectator sport), and a friend to dance with. Most fun I've had a feis for a while.

So, I guess next up on the agenda for me, is finding the mental fortitude I need to push past the excuses to drill, drill, drill, drill. That and sleep. I could really use some sleep.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Creativity: Wig Box

When I first bought my wig two years back, I, like all other wig purchaser, found myself in need of something to store it in. After looking around at all the options of wig boxes (I've seen people store them in fancy specialty boxes all the way to large tupperware containers) I, being me, decided to do things the hard way.

I used to a be a crafty type person on a regular basis and I felt the crafting itch, so I decided to "make my own" wig box.

I started the idea with the blank, round, paper mache hat style boxes you can get at any old craft store. The idea was to buy one of those and decoupage all sorts of awesome Irish Dance pictures and inspirational quotes onto it. But when I got to the store I was waylaid by this beauty:

It being square wasn't the beauty of it - it having a tray WAS! Unlike the round versions, this one screamed "I'll hold your wig AAAND keep you bobby pins, hair bands, etc, organized"

It was bought, it was filled and it when two years just being the plain paper box, held closed by an over sized rubber band.

Finally, a few weeks ago, the crafty itch got to be too much, and I finally figured out that I wanted to ditch the decoupage  idea (just this time around, I want to go back to that for the next box) and go for a hand painted look.

Another trip to the craft store, and paints were purchased. I won't bore you with how long I agonized over colours but I settled on 2 of my favourites, blue and silver.

So without further ado, the finished project:

This version only has a ribbon that ties around the box to keep it shut/make it easier to carry. Mach 2 is going to have actually attached handles and maybe a latch.

One side
and the other side and a glance of the top

The tray holds bobby pins, hair bands, safety pins and the minimal amount of make up that I use. That's really my favorite part, makes packing so much more compact

Under the tray fits my wig, neatly bundled in it's hair net (think Mach 2 will be cloth lined as well), and I can usually fit my headband and a small hand mirror in with the wig as well

So, there is is. I can't wait to experement with making different sizes, give it different styles, ect. Maybe I'll even do custom orders/sell them at some point. Maybe they aren't for everyone. Some people will always like the snazzy, zippered, not awesomely handmade wig boxes, and that's cool. But I love it. So, there you go. Adventures in craftyness!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fit for dance

I am sure that it won't be surprising to hear that I have been trying to lose some weight. I mean, first of all I am woman, over the age of 12 in the USA - aren't we ALL trying to lose some weight.

Unlike most of my countrywomen however, I don't want to loose scads so I can look good in all the trendiest clothes and make a pastime out of counting my ribs, or flexing my muscles. Unlike most, my target goal is the *highest* weight in my "healthy" range, according to the whole BMI thing, not the lowest. And it's only about 20 pounds away. I've lived my life within 10 pounds of it, most of my adult life, with a couple years in what is now my ideal weight,  and I don't think I would be comfortable in my own body if I was any smaller then that.

Anyway,  I've been trying to use dance as, if not so much a REASON to lose weight, certainly an inducement. Luckily, Irish is nothing like ballet, you don't have to meet certain body type requirements to ever be considered "good" at it. And there are no leotards in Irish dance (at least not required).

But I have been well aware that if I want my stamina to improve, if I want my leaps to be higher, and if I want to actually someday be able to fit into a solo dress, losing that 20ilbs could be of extreme benefit.

The problem I am running into is - it's *ONLY* 20 pounds. I don't mean to lessen the work that people who lose lots of weight do, but I am starting to get the opinion, it's much harder to lose the smaller amounts. Usually, when you have 100 pounds to lose, just starting by cutting back on your diet and some basic exercise will start showing some impressive results. But I already don't drink soda (except for an occasional treat, and it's usually diet when I do), I eat reasonable amounts of vegetables, and usually manage to keep my intake to under 2000 calories a day. Admittedly, cookies and ice cream are a weak spot, but I don't keep them in the house so they aren't a temptation, and when I do splurge a little, i keep it in reasonable proportions. I exercise, admittedly, only once a week at dance class usually, but I don't have a completely sedentary life style so I keep pretty active.

And despite all this - which seems like some hard work to me - I am lucky if I budge a pound off of me. So anger making!

I know what I could do to make it happen more - cut out all the tasty foods and subside on celery and prune juice for a month, practically live at the gym, etc. But I am not a gym rat, and I like food and going out with friends to eat, and drinking beer and eating ice cream. I hate exercising just to exercise. I'd rather swear off food then commit to spending 7 hours a week on a treadmill. So, what can I do.

I have a work out game on my xbox - that helps. While it's really just regular fitness exercises, I am enough of an Xbox junkie that I have to get good scores and achievements, so that makes a game out of it. But even that gets boring, and I will go one week, using it everyday, then 3 weeks not even looking at it. I've been trying to drill my dance moves at home more, but my concrete sub floors hurt me.

I guess this is just another metaphorical brick wall I am hitting. If anyone has any brilliant ideas, short of liposuction, let me know.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dress Sizes: A Quandry . . .

Why do dresses in the Irish Dance world all get sized by age? I realize, that we dance divided by age, but not all ages, nor even age ranges wear the same size. Is it because kid's clothes tend to be sized by age and most dancers are kids? But then what about adults? "Dress suitable for senior lady" . . . that could mean anything, ANYTHING! And even on the kids sizes. "Will fit 13-15?" Not only was my shape COMPLETELY different from everyone else my age whilst in that pre-teen bracket, it shifted DRASTICALLY between those ages? People also post measurements usually - pretty detailed measurements too, and that is significantly more helpful, but an at a glance perusal of the title/heading of a for sale post, it doesn't much help does it. I mean, even with my current, much beloved, second places, I am about a million miles to go til I get a solo dress, but I like cruising the ads on Dance Again, just like everyone else. And I don't even know where to start looking!!  16 and Over? Well, I am much the same size as I was when I was 16, but my 16 year old self had the figure of a 30-something mother of 4 so I don't really know if that catagory works. And then to look at the pictures, you have no real idea of size until you open it up, when they tell you the dress was work by a petite 16 year old with the measurements of  22,16,23 and you feel like you either wire your jaw shut and just stop eating anything solid or just go all Shylock and remove a pound (or 2) of flesh in an ill-advised home lypo-suction job.

Why can't normal dress sizes be used? Like really! "Stunning Size 00 dress"? Know it's not the one for me "Elegant dress of an appropriate size for a dancing hippo?" Might be a bit loose in the hips, but I know I can tailor it down and might be worth a look.

Oh well, add to the list of other things that make NO SENSE and just get out my measuring tape if I want to know what size dress to shop for.

That's it . . . sorry, this was kind of a pointless post, but it just crossed my mind.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Adventures in being my own Feis Mom, Part 2

Day 2

Because of the super long nap I took after the feis on Saturday, I couldn't sleep so I was up til about 2, and had to be up for 6:30. 6:30 ended up being 6:50, but because all my stuff was still packed from the day before, I was able to get out the door, and to the venue for 7:30. What can I say, there was no traffic on route 90. I got to the venue, parked, grabbed my stuff and went to find the Reg table. I guess I must have looked exhausted, cause the lady at the table checking me in, asked if I had been out late the night before. I just explained I was still beat from the feis the day before, and she nodded - I am still not sure if she thought I was picking up the card for my kid or myself, but I guess she figured it out, cause then she asked if I danced in the Adults catagory. Nope, &Overs, I say. I won't say her face got sour, but it certainly looked the smallest bit taken aback. I have to keep up with the kids, I am one of the brave ones, haha. She doesn't look convinced, so I take my dancer's card and walk away. Which brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 4";  Don't assume everyone is being critical of you, but don't be surprised that it happens.

Dancing in the Adult category, you are just kind of viewed as a pet anomaly by large parts of the ID society. Like, 'aww, you want to take up dancing so you can hang out with your kid.' No one expects much, and because it is it's own under-represented category, most just tend to ignore them. But an adult dancing with the kids always shakes people up. A lot won't like it. I've yet to face head on hostility about it, but I know the day will come. Until then, I am just going to smile and nod when the check in lady is at a loss for words that I would dare to compete with the 13 year olds.

Any rate, I find a seat - which wasn't hard at all as there was stadium seating - and once again, I go about setting up my lonely camp spot. I will admit, it's tough not having ANYONE to hang out with at a feis. No parents or friends to help you get ready, or take your mind of nerves. I mean, I see all the kids from my class running around, all excited cause this is their first or second feis and their parents are trying to wrangle them where they need to go. But my wig makes me look really different, so most of the little ones looked right at me and never realized that I go to class with them. Besides, they've got parents, siblings and grandparents to keep them company - they don't want to hang out with the creepy grown up that is in their class. But I am digressing.

I wig up and slather on some makeup whilst the are having Mass. It's been years since I've been to a Catholic mass, so I have to admit, I was curious. I just sat quietly in my seat while the rest of the freaking arena participated, and once again I felt very much like the odd man out - a would-be Russian Orthodox convert sitting in a crowd of Catholics, a 26 year old woman dancing with 13 year olds. Just can't catch a break for fitting in, but then, trying to fit in would mean compromising what I WANT to be, and that shit's only for self-conscious teenagers.

Anyhoo, get wig on, realize I have little time till dancing starts, and I am up right away, and I also realize that I am STARVING. Run to the concession stand, buy a hot dog, get hit on by the guys working the concession stand, scarf down the hot dog, and then run to my stage and wait for the dancing to start. While finishing getting my shoes on and what not, I hear a mother bollicking her child for forgetting bobby pins - actually, that makes it sound too tough. I hear a mother telling her child that "No, WE didn't forget bobby pins, YOU forgot bobby pins. You have to learn to take consequences when you forget your responsibilities." Had to make me laugh a bit. Teenagers. I offer them my tray of bobby pins, but the mother kindly refuses. She said that no, her daughters will have to find some/borrow some from their friends - they have to learn to deal with problems without some one always taking care of stuff for them. I was amused. Good parenting in action, and also, a brief light into the fact that not all Feis Mom's act as a pack-mule Jeeves to their dancing Woosters and will take care of everything for their teenaged dancers.

This feis, very unkindly in my opinion, decided to smash all my dances right in a row, back to back of each other. The good side is that you get done quickly. The down side is that you have no time to change gears and maybe go over the step once in you head before you go up. But, like I said in the last post, either you know it or you don't. Dances went Reel, Light Jig, Slip and treble Jig (which I sat out again) and then hornpipe. I don't know why, but I never pay much attention to how I do my reel, so I can't say if I was pleased with how I danced or not, but I did the step, no mistakes, so I have that. Light jig, I was trying harder, had big plans, but then the girl that I was sharing the stage with would not GET OUT OF MY WAY. I couldn't go behind her because when I tried shifting behind her on my side-step, she would drift backwards. When I tried going in front of her, she drifted forward. I don't think she was doing it deliberately, but damn! I am not unaccustomed to having to dance around other people, I do have small children that often times get in my way in class, but this girl was like a boulder that I couldn't get around.

Anyway, un-checked in with the stage monitor, telling her I wasn't planning on dancing the next two. Ran up, took my time changing shoes, slugged back some water and went back to wait for hornpipe, while everyone else was finishing up the Treble Jig. I had a very nice feis volunteer tell me that if I wanted to, they would totally still let me go up for Treble Jig. That was mad nice of him, but I wanted to focus on what I knew, not stress myself about a step I only half have. So, we all line up for hornpipe, I am in the last set of 2 dancers and I am feeling MAD confident. I start on time, I start strong. My bangs are loud, I am in time to the music and I have the judge's attention (Incidentally, it was the same judge who placed my hornpipe second the day before) First step right foot - perfect. Left foot - loud and clear. Second step right foot, sounds great! Second step left foot . . . . wait . . . where did it go? No literally - I had it a second ago. Don't know why, don't know how, but suddenly I was doing part of my first step from my old school. A step I never fully got good at and that I haven't danced in almost 2 years now. Knowing that I had to get back into my step but not sure how exactly to transition, I almost stalled out. I was just running out of ideas when we hit the part of the music that I knew meant leap 2-3's in my actual step, so I finished the dance right. Not well, cause the entire time I was mentally freaking out and trying to remember if that WAS the right ending. But it ended I bowed and voila, dancing day 2 is done. Go back to my space, shimmy out of dress and back into warm-ups. Swing by results, nothing is up yet. Buy ANOTHER overpriced tee-shirt and spend a while looking at the jewelry. Back to the results board, which now has my dance's up.

Nothing on light jig or hornpipe - no surprises there. But another second for my Reel! Very pleased with that actually. If I am being honest with myself - I kind of phoned this feis in. I am still getting my feet wet again with this competition thing. Somedays I am great at my dances, other days, I forget them. I drill as much as I can over the week, but that often isn't much. The fact that I placed at all in any of my dances thrilled me. It means, I CAN hold my own against the kids. It encouraged me to put more energy and work into practicing - if I can get results with little effort, what results would I get if I tried harder. I could try and be dissappointed that I didn't get any firsts, or didn't place in all my dances. But that would be selfish and unrealistic of me. I still placed. It was still MY number written up on that board. It was still my old self beating out 7 other girls, all younger and more fit then me. In general - it has been the confidence boost I have been looking for.

It was also kind of sad that I had no one there with me to share the excitement. I don't mean to keep whinging on about it - but being alone at a feis sucks in alot of ways. But knowing that I had a boyfriend waiting at home who would be more then excited for my small victory, I decided to leave, even though the day had barely started. Because:

No kids or sibling to wait for. There are up sides to the lonely aspect of feising alone. I was home by 11am, out to lunch with friends by 1pm and home napping by 3, while the feis didn't even end until 5. And let me tell you I was never more happy to wash my hair. Because just remember, that after 2 feiseanna, this . . .

Is just a clever disguise for THIS . . ..

So that was my double header feis weekend of doom, in a very long, multi-post nutshell. Results were as follows:

Day one: 2nd in Reel and Hornpipe, 5th in Light Jig
Day two: 2nd in Reel

Judges comments from day one were all "heels in" and "on toes more", so y'know, stuff I already knew but never really work on. Must do better with that. My school is heading into summer break, so while I might not be able to practice my steps fully, I CAN and WILL work on my turn out and dancing on my toes.

Happy Memorial Day all, I am going to go finish recovering.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Adventures in being my own Feis Mom, Part 1

So the double header weekend of doom is done. Those who are on my facebook page got the play-by-play, but I figured I would do a full report here.

And away we go.

Day One:

I didn't get out of work until 1:00am Saturday morning, and having remembered while at work that there were a pile of things I would need, a late night store run was in order. Thank the Lord that there is a 24 hour walgreens right across the street from my apartment, sparing me from walmart. So, after make up, more hair bands, bobby pins, hair clips, mousse, hairspray, new water bottle, camp chair and a can of red bull were purchased, I made it home. Knowing that I would do better to stay up and pack then sleep to the last minute, I stayed  awake arranging everything. And let me just take a moment to say - I don't know how people end up taking like a full roller suit case plus duffel plus make up bag plus dress bag. I mean, admitedly I could have used a *bit* more space then I ended up having in my one knapsack and dress bag, but as I don't have a pack-mule/parent to carry all my crap for me, I figured packing light was a virtue. And no kidding - I fit my entire feis experience into this . . .

Yep. No kidding. And that is everything I could possibly need. Hard Shoes, Ghillies, wig, makeup, hair crap, dance dress . . all of it. I thank my bad-ass awesome wig box. I am inordinately proud of it. I "made" it myself and fits my wig, headband, hand mirror, bobby pins, hair ties and make up (I only bring the bare essentials),  and keeps it all organized too. And the whole box fits in the bottom of my bag! Remind me to do a whole post dedicated to this wig box. Anyhoo, it brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 1"; Pack light, pack tight, pack smart, but always make room for a towel.

The reason for the towel? Well let me rewind here a bit. So, after about 2.5 hours of sleep I sleep through my alarm, and rush out of the house 15 minutes later then planned. With a judicious application of speeding, I still made to the feis by the time I wanted to be there. Checked in, and set up my lonely little single chair camping space. Crack open my red bull, whip out the wig box and start getting to work on attaching the scalp poodle, trying to not envy the kids that just get to sit there while their mother does all the work. My attempt was successful; however, as I stood to jump around and make sure that it would stay put in action, I might have accidentally knocked over the can and spilled pretty much all of the 8.3 oz of heart-attack-in-a-can all over the floor. Hence, why I was wishing for a towel. Douglas Adams, you would be ashamed of me. An obliging hoodie took one for the team and served as a mop.

That was not the best omen for the start of my day, but I let neither it, nor my entire lack of friends/companions to get me down. Anthems are sung, dress is put on and a merciful dance mom camped next to me was kind enough to help me zip.

I had about three groups before my first dance, so I pretty much just go to chill at my stage. Light jig was up first. I am usually most confident about my light jig, but looking back now, I was still half asleep and was not really pushing it. Reel was next. Got through it and felt good. Can't say it was the *BEST* I could have done, but I was pleased that I didn't space out on the step and flub the whole thing. Slip jig was next and I gave it a miss. I had been practicing it all week but I have learned something about my self. I never crammed before exams in school - I could never learn that way. My logic was either I knew it or I didn't, and even if I stressed out and crammed before an exam, I would forget it all under the pressure. My dancing is the same way. I spent the whole  week drilling both my slip and my treble jig, but I knew, if I got up there infront of the judge, both dances would just be gone and I still have a little bit too much pride for that. Brings me to "Being your own Feis Mom tip 2" Know your own limits. I can run on 2 hours of sleep. I can shlep all my own stuff. I can even sew my own dance dress, but I can't be responsible for all this AND stress myself out about dances I don't know fully yet. So I never checked in for Slip or Treble Jig. Hornpipe came last, and that was a happy note to end on. For all I used to LOATHE hornpipe, it's kind of becoming one of my favorite dances.

So, all that work to get there, get the wig, makeup and dress on, sign in for dances and wait, and it was all over and done with in under an hour. Strip back out of the dress, into the warm-ups, change back into sneakers, and head to the results board.

Be not at all shocked, but rather pleased that your number is on the results boards as fifth for light jig (I started late, so right there I was pretty sure I was out of the running for top 3.) But I at very least wasn't last, and warrented my number on the board and a lovely ribbon.

And then nearly fall over when I see "1496" written in the 2nd place slot for Reel. Freak out internally, double take to make sure it's not a typo. See it there again. Walk away. Call boyfriend and tell him that you think you got second. Go to vendor tent. Buy an overpriced tee shirt and a number holder (which, for some reason you had never gotten around to purchasing before.) Walk back to the results.

To add insult to injury, they have now posted hornpipe results up, and once again "1496" is sitting squarely in the 2nd place slot. Calmly walk over to a secluded corner, squeal quietly to self, while jumping up and down like you are being attacked by crazy bees, compose yourself, then walk back to check the boards yet AGAIN, because you still can't believe it. Stroll over to the medals distribution and tell the lovely ladies there that you think you won some medals. Try to act your age as they tell you "yes, you got 2 seconds and a ribbon for your fifth place." Thank them profusely, and walk away, calmly. Because, "Being your own Feis Mom tip 3;" Dignity, always dignity.

I am not saying don't indulge in some giddy excitement, but try not to gloat. You don't want angry feis moms accusing you of stealing away medals from their wonderful babies and being a sore winner. What's more, do you really want the world know the evil thoughts of "HAH! Suck on that, you limber, fleet-footed fifteen year olds! You just had 2 mdeals and a ribbon yanked out from under you by an old woman!"  . . . Yeah, I try to not be generally hated. And lord knows, I have NO friends in this region anyway.

I went home shortly after that. Before passing out for a five hour nap, I forced the boyfriend to take me out for a celebratory Buffalo Chicken Mac n'Cheese melt and a Pint. Which brings me today's win:

 I will catch everyone up on day 2 of being my own Feis Mom tomorrow. . . .

Monday, May 20, 2013

You are too old for this class

Well, I finally got it.

The thought that has been bouncing around inside the munkins' heads for weeks now.

"Aren't you too old for this class."

Maybe it sleep exhaustion, but I've never wanted to commit an act of violence against an 8 year old ever before in my life. I managed to contain myself, but I am sure my response of "I'm not to old!" was said a little more petulantly and childishly then I would normally of cared for. The kid quickly back-peddled and tried saying that she meant that I was too tall. I am 5'4". Admittedly, while that makes me much taller then all of my class mates, I hardly think it has anything to do with me twisting my ankle, which is what started this conversation.

A minute late, she asked me if I was 16. The look on her face when I told her I was 26 was something like this:

Sadly, this girl is so young, she wouldn't get the reference. The year she was born, that film was already 15 years old. 

But it really did make me question - again - for a minute if I am too old for this. My ankles twist, my knees ache. I work 45 hours a week and have to be responsible for bills, meals and cleaning. 

But ironically enough, not 30 minutes before this interlude with this kid, I was talking to one of the waiting Mom's  about my dancing, while I was changing my shoes. (Please note, this was the first time one of the parents has actually TALKED directly to me, so that was a bit thrilling.) The conversation was something like this:

Her: *Upon seeing me stumbling out a downing almost an entire bottle of water* "Quite a good work out, huh?"
Me: *still panting for breath* Yeah, sometime I envy the kids. They can go for hours without even breaking a sweat.
Her: How long have you been dancing?
Me: *with a shame-faced grimace* Ten years, off and on. But because it's been off and on, I've never gotten very far. I tried starting while I was in high school, but couldn't keep going to class. So I started after I graduated, but with work and bills and stuff I haven't always been able to keep up. You know, all that annoying adult stuff.
Her: I know what you mean, a few years back I tried taking an adult class and just couldn't manage it. Well, you seem very dedicated now.
Me: Yeah, I figure, why the heck not. It was something I always wanted to do as a kid and couldn't. I don't have any kids yet, so the only schedule I have to worry about it my own. So I am just going to go for it.
Her: Good for you!

And that's that. Good for me! Good for any "Adult Dancer". Good for any person who fights for their dreams.

I am choosing to dwell on that conversation from class this week, rather then the talk with the kid. What I keep telling myself it this "Kids just don't know" and honestly, if their parents are doing their job, kids shouldn't know, at least, not at that age.

Kids don't know that childhood flies by faster then you can ever begin to imagine and the someday, they might too be in their twenties, wondering why they weren't able to do all the things they wanted to as kids. But being an adult doesn't mean you need to give up on those dreams.

Kids just don't know that life doesn't end at 18 - that really it just begins. Yes there are alot of responsibilities, but all that self-governance teenagers rage for can be just as fun as they imagine, and the responsibilities are like salt - on their own, they are terrible, but the make the tasty things of life more flavorful.

Kids just don't know that life existed before them. It never really crosses their mind that when you were their age, and first falling passionately in love with Irish Dance, they were -9 years old. They don't understand that you've been obsessed with this art form for longer then they've been alive, and your age and their age have nothing to do with it.

Kids just don't understand that, historically speaking, when the Dance Masters were traveling through Ireland, teaching the ancestor versions of these steps, he wasn't teaching it to the 8 year olds. He was teaching it to the teens and young adults.

Kid's don't realize the only difference between me and them is seventeen years and about a hundred pounds. And if they do, they don't realized that the challenges age and size present can be worn as badges of honor, rather then stared at as insurmountable obstacles. I am proud of the fact that despite any physical limitations, I can leap in the air as high as the small, less gravity bound children.

So, let the kids call me too old. Let them think that I have one foot in the grave and another in an untapped hardshoe on a slippery stage. Let them look at me askance and question why I am in "their" class. And bless them for their small, child-like perspective. I have been an outside observer of the Irish Dance world since 1996, and I refuse to be on the outside looking in any more. I am an adult. I am the master of my own world. And I choose this!

And now, I am going to go drill, because I have 2 feiseanna in a week's time, and I STILL don't know my second slip jig or treble jig step. I will leave you all with this thought, that will really show how old we really are . . .

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Updates from today


Class was good. Hornpipe remains solid. Reel is still good, when I remember what I am doing. Worked some more on the slip jig, but it continues to elude me. Treble Jig wasn't even touched so I don't want to think how rusty THAT is. On the social end, one little munchkin seemed more then a touch critical because I still do the "easy" light jig steps and the one little boy asked me for help tying his reel shoes. I was just glad they are starting to talk to me.

After class was better. Got a chance to catch up with TC, re: my upcoming competitions. She doesn't have any preference on what new hard shoes I get, as long as they help, rather then impede my dancing.As far as dresses go - there aren't any school rentals that would even remotely fit on me, so she gave me the go-ahead to just sew up something on my own. Kind of excited about that. I think she recommended black, but since she would rather see me in tights over poodle socks, I am going to see if she minds if I make it in school colours.  Got it sketched up and everything. YEAH! Can't wait.

Decided to play with my wig tonight, trying to figure out how to make it look better. I've been looking at old pictures and it clearly looks like it was put on by a beginer - well, cause it was. I've suspected for a while that it was because I've been putting it to far forward on my head. The problem with trying to fix that is that the length of my hair makes creating an anchor spot difficult. It either is too far forward or to far back. So tonight I experimented with pulling the hair back into the "too far" position, making sure it's tight, and then putting bobby pins in a nice middle spot, and then hooked the wig's comb into the bobby pins. I also made sure to keep some of my bangs out, and kept them pinned to the side, in kind of an Irish Dance emo-swoop kind of way, so I'm not all forehead and then *POOF* EXPLOSION OF CURLS!

This . .. .

Was the end result. Still needs a bit more work, mainly just to make sure it won't go flying off the top of my head whilst in motion. But yeah, I think it is looking better. It has also inspired my newest "Adult Irish Dance win". . .

Cause sometimes, I feel like it looks like these little girl's necks are going to buckle under the weight of the hair. And it's the same wig that looks reasonable on a teen/adult dancer, but put it on a  10 year old, and they might as well be a bobble head. If a child tried wearing my wig, even though it's shorter, and not terribly full, I am not even sure how it would stay on her head. And sometimes, after wearing it a while, even I begin to feel like my head is being consumed by a small, ravenous animal that has been cunningly strapped to my head with combs and bobby pins.

So anyway, projects for this week include trying to score some fabric, trim some of the frizzies off my scalp-poodle, drill on my turn out and keeping on my toes and in general, not panicing about the double header of doom feis weekend being a little less then 2 months away, and attempting to be proactive instead.

Until next time,


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Adult Irish Dance Wins

So . . . In the vein of my last blog, I have finally made the first entry on my list of "Adult Irish Dance Wins", which is my way at looking at all the reasons being an adult dancer is fan-dam-tastic, rather then focusing on all the aches, pains, money invested, time spent, injuries accumulated. We may wear our knee braces and super-whamadine sports bras as badges of honour, but lets focus on the awesome stuff.

So here it is, Number one:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Positively Me

So, I am by nature, a not optimistic person. It's not so much that the glass is half empty, but that it could certainly be a bit more full, couldn't it? By nature, I feel the weight of burdens an stress, in an almost physical way. They often get the better of me, and it all I can see. After lots of recent heart-to-hearts with the Significant Other, I've been making more of a concerted effort to try and be more positive.

But reading over this blog, I see how this negativity has been holding true in my dance as well. I feel so heavy with all the problems - money, fitness, ability, lack of friends - that I have a hard time focusing on the good. So, it's time to make some changes. I don't think that having an Annie-esque attitude will magically make me a better dancer, but hey, it sure as hell can't hurt, right?

So here we go, I am going to list all my concerns in a brief statement, and then I am going to counter them with the postitives:

1. Dance is expensive and I am poor.
     Dance is cheaper then Gym memberships and Anti-depressants. I have a good job, and am able to pay all my bills and still am able to afford Dance. Yes, I have to budget carefully, and I can't just buy new shoes/wigs/etc on whim, but that makes me appreciate them all the more when I get them

2. I am over-weight and out of shape, making it really hard to push my dancing to the next level.
    Dance gives me a reason to eat healthier and get fit that is easier to stick with then dieting just for vanity's sake.

3. I will probably never be good enough to get to Worlds.
    I may never be, but if there is a Championship medal for determination, by God, I will get it. It has been ten years of taking class off and on to get to where I am, and even if it takes ten more, I WILL get there. I WILL get medals at a feis, I WILL get that solo dress, I will get to regionals, nationals, worlds - even if I don't win at them, I will at least GET THERE.

4. I haven't made any friends in my new region
     I am dancing for me. I may have no one to hang out with at Competitions. I may dance with 6 year olds. But I am not dancing for friends, nor am I dancing for social acceptance. I am dancing for me. If friends come along, great. If they don't, oh well. I am used to being the social odd-duck, so being the weird adult dancer in &Overs, hanging out with nobody is no skin off my nose. I am fan-damn-tastic, and I don't need to worry about friends - they will be there sooner or later.

So, there it is.

I have to say, I feel that the general attitude of/about Adult Dancers tends towards the less then positive. I mean, as funny and true as the "You might be an Adult Irish Dancer if" list is, it all about having to carry a pharmacy in your dance bag, and athletic tape by the case load, scheduling dance around work and kid's schedules, explaining your dance age, etc.

In response to this, and with my new Sunny-outlook mentality, I am going to start something new. It's called the "Why Adult Irish Dancer's Are Lucky" . . . or maybe "Benefits of being an Adult Irish Dancer" . . ."Adult Irish Dancer Win" ..  . . alright, I don't know what it will be called, but it will be AWESOME.

Stay tuned,

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Observation from the other side of the Feis Stage

So, because I missed so much class over the last year, what with my move, my traveling for work and a month or two of depression kicking my butt, there was no way I was in fighting condition to even think about entering the Feis that my school helps organize. Also, I was waaay late to sign up. The 800 cap was hit before I even thought about registering.

In consideration of this, I did the next best thing - I volunteered and was assigned a stage monitor position. I may not be the most experienced feis goer, but being on the other side of the stage gave me a completely different perspective. So in no particular order, her are my observations.

1. Feis Moms - when observed close up, they aren't THAT much different then regular Dance moms, in regards to their dedication to their dancers, they just tend to be less mean. They don't yell, but they also certainly don't give up

2. Irish Dance, not just for the Irish? You can see alot of different ethnic backgrounds, specifically surprising number of Asians dancing these days. So either the Celtic peoples have a thing for Eastern spouses, lots of Irish extract families adopting over seas, or maybe they are just embracing the idea of Zen and the art of Irish dance, but either way, it's nice to see lots of variety. For something that is so clearly entrenched in a singular cultural setting, it's awesome to see that it still holds a universal appeal.  I mean, if Irish dance was just for the Irish, my Polish-German ass would be thrown out before I could say 'polka'.

3. It's not the little ones with the short attention spans you have to watch out for.First timers, and early grade dancers are have such gravitas about the feis thing, and are so concerned about missing their dances, they will usually crawl up you butt to check in four dances early.  It's the older, higher level dancers that your shouting out for in hallways and sending girls running across the venue to find.

4. No matter how helpful and warm the Irish Dance community can be, you will not make friends at a Feis, if you are new to the scene. There are too many people, all very busy, very rushed and usually pretty stressed, that they are too preoccupied to make bonds - that is what class is for. But today proved that a Feis can still be fun, even if you don't know anyone.

5. Almost twenty years later, and people are still calling it "Riverdancing" . . . maybe we should just give up the fight and get an offical name change. It would be like calling tissues "Kleenex", or all colas being "Coke" . . .  nah . . . .

6. To everyone insisting that skirts AREN'T getting shorter, I call shenanigans! All the new style puffball, soft, tutu and cupcake style skirts on the older teenage dancers are down right scandalous at times!  Thank god for kickpants/spankies/briefs, etc, or the amount of cheek I would be seeing would have been obscene. Mid-thigh my (or rather THEIR) tukas!! The shorter skirts really don't accentuate the dancing, in my humble opinion, they distract. I get kids grow fast, but by 16, they aren't growing too much anymore, so get a skirt the right length people.

7. Butt-bows. . . over the age of 12 and they just look silly. Sorry. It's just the way it is. I am willing to give that I am starting to like a lot more modern styles of dresses then I used to, but Butt-bows will never make any sense to me. You are neither a toddler, a puppy nor a present, so a bow just doesn't seem like it belongs.

8. Even if you aren't dancing, 2.5 hours of sleep is not enough to get through the day.

9. Adult dancers are the most fun. Less easily distracted then the toddlers, are excited to be there, are at their stages on time, and always seem to enjoy themselves so much more then anyone else. While, (when I actually compete) I have been in the &Overs, I have to say, being with other adult dancers is an awesome boost of energy. (And they understand the aches, pains, and other conundrums of being an adult with this hobby)

10. I may have missed being part of this world growing up, and might always feel slightly out of place in it, but I will be damned if I give it up. I clearly love it too much. I deprived myself of sleep and food on my day off, just to be there to be a part of it, even if I couldn't dance.

Now, after a nap and a feast of fast food, I am going to relax on my couch and take a break from Irish with some Bollywood. I am nothing if not multi-cultural. . . .

Cheers all,